The dawn of Reign has begun on Supergirl. From her very first appearance it was obvious that Supergirl had big plans for Odette Annable‘s Samantha, and not just for those who read the casting news about the character. Yet it wasn’t until the winter finale, entitled “Reign,” that those plans finally materialized. Reign is here and she’s living up to her name. While Supergirl has been shaky, at best, with their main villains, Samantha’s dark side is well on her way to being among the best the show (and the Arrow-verse) has ever offered. There’s just one small problem with Reign and Samantha’s storyline, her young daughter Ruby.
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The smartest thing that Supergirl has done with Reign is introduce her as Samantha first and establish that Reign is something that is happening to Sam, not exactly something within her power. Unlike other Supergirl villains, Samantha is not one-dimensional and power-hungry. She’s a victim just as much as anyone in her life. Wisely, Supergirl had Sam establish a friendship with Kara that’s true and meaningful and separate from her life as Reign. This should (and already has) made every interaction between Kara and Reign just that much more heartbreaking. (Although how Kara doesn’t recognize her “best friend” is anyone’s guess.)
In theory, Sam’s relationship with her daughter should follow similar lines. It’s this connection to her daughter that grounds Sam even more to humanity and makes her transformation into Reign tragic for more than just herself. Ruby is a complete innocent in all of this and her existence should just twist the knife even further, but it simply isn’t working. The relationship that exists on paper doesn’t translate on screen. Every scene between Ruby and Sam grinds Supergirl to a screeching halt.
Ruby just feels like an incredibly awkward (not in an intentional way) and unnecessary character. She moves between two equally grating states, whining about Sam working and being way too naive for her age. She looks like a young teenager but acts half her age frequently.
Ruby doesn’t seem like a complete character but more like a plot device that is designed to transparently pull on the heart strings. Every scene between Sam and Ruby feels like little more than a chore. Although that could just be because Odette Annable is giving it her all and getting almost nothing in return from her young co-star. (It’s cruel to nitpick any child actor’s performance too much, but Emma Tremblay has been particularly disappointing.)
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However, the worst thing about Ruby and her position in the Reign storyline is the way the character has been inserted into Alex’s story. Alex’s desire to have children felt completely natural and was an organic way to bring about her break-up with Maggie. Alex’s sudden and complete bonding with Ruby just feels forced. Supergirl seems to be heavily setting up Alex becoming Ruby’s adoptive mom, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, and it’s being communicated in the blandest and mostobvious way possible.
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Supergirl doesn’t need to get rid of Ruby entirely as a character. She’s too important to Sam’s life to just outright ignore. However, it would be in the show’s best interest distance themselves ever so slightly from the character. The show already has a heartbreaking and emotional connection to humanity for Sam in her friendships with Kara, Lena and Alex. It’s this bond that should be the focus and real emotional weight of Reign’s transformation, not Ruby.
Supergirl doesn’t really need to add more emotional trauma to Kara’s plate in season 3 — the character has more than enough going on — but it would be much more emotionally satisfying and justified to see Kara grapple with Sam’s “secret identity” than having any more of the repetitive angst with Ruby. Supergirl has managed to do a lot right with Sam and Reign in season 3 but the Ruby storyline has become a bit of a black mark on the otherwise stellar work.
But what do you think of Ruby? Should she remain the emotional focus of the Reign storyline or should things switch over to Kara’s friendship with Sam? Have you been invested in Sam and Ruby’s relationship so far?
Supergirl season 3 returns Monday, January 15 at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Supergirl Facebook page.
(Image courtesy of The CW)